The view of the wine category from our newest recruit, Brazil country manager Rodrigo Lanari
Based in São Paulo, Wine Intelligence’s newly announced Brazil Country Manager Rodrigo Lanari has high hopes for the wine category among Brazilian consumers, but acknowledges that challenges lie ahead.
Let’s start with a bit of history. How and when did you first get involved in the wine industry?
Like most of us, I was bitten by the wine bug by chance. At my five-year graduation party, I happened to meet an old colleague and she invited me to work at her family’s importing business. At that time, it was the largest importer and a pioneer in Brazil. She was looking for someone to take care of their numerous suppliers all over the world. I had some experience with the import/export business and accepted the challenge right away. It looked like a dream job; which, of course, turned out to have it’s up and downs. I could not imagine back then how challenging the business of wine can be. That was in 2004.
But my romance with wine had started a few years before. I was studying in Austria and had the chance to visit the wine taverns in Vienna, heurige, to taste their new release wines, usually served with sparkling water(!). When I returned home, I started a tasting group with a group of Brazilian friends (that is still going today).
How would you say the Brazilian wine market is performing at the moment?
We are experiencing challenging times at the moment. In all senses – politically, economically and socially. And the wine industry is no exception. Domestic producers have made great improvements recently, especially with Sparkling wine and by getting noticed abroad. Wine production in non-traditional areas is also improving (Guaspari in São Paulo and Villa Francioni in Santa Catarina, just to mention two examples). But the main barriers remain heavy taxation and regulation on wine. You pay double the price for the same bottle compared to the US; we pay around 83% of taxes on a bottle of wine1. On the plus side, there is an emerging class of new consumers entering the market (8 million according to last Brazil Landscapes 2017 report) and there is a wide offering of imported wines. Despite the ups and downs of the economy, the wine market should experience solid growth in the near future.
Are there any consumer trends – wine related or not – that you can identify in Brazil?
Brazilians are very digital. We have one of the largest Facebook communities (102 million according to Facebook) and the number of cell phones surpasses the population (242 million cell phones). This will certainly play a major role in purchasing behaviour, and what sources of information people consider when choosing wine.
Another interesting trend is the phenomenon of ‘gourmetisation’, which extends from TV shows to craft beer, coffees and chocolates. Brazilians have embraced this movement and are becoming more conscious about customised, differentiated products. This may also benefit the dissemination of wine culture.
Lastly, would you say you have a favourite style or region of wine?
Well, taste changes over time and with me it hasn’t been any different. So, I do not have a particular region or type or style that I prefer, but instead a few that I am enjoying right now. My current taste is pitched more towards a lighter style of wine, such as the old classic Pinot from Burgundy but also from Oregon and New Zealand. I also like the fresh fruit-driven styles that are being made with the “cepas patrimoniales” from Chile (País, Carignan, Cinsault). And, when it’s hot, a chilled Brazilian sparkling is always a great choice.